Hundreds of people amassed in downtown's Terry Schrunk Plaza this evening to voice outrage and concern over Donald Trump's announcement he'll end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA, program begun by former President Barack Obama.
With Trump's decision, roughly 800,000 undocumented immigrants who'd been brought to the US as children have begun questioning the future of protections that allowed them to work legally and defer removal. If congress doesn't pass new protections within six months, these so-called "Dreamers" will be eligible for deportation in March.
The announcement drew outcry from activists, elected officials, business leaders, and lots of other folks in every corner of the country, even as Trump and Attorney General Jeff Sessions have painted it as a jobs protection measure, and argued speciously DACA was going to die anyway.
In Portland, the gathering of maybe 400 has drawn chants, song, and speeches from several of Oregon's 11,000 Dreamers.
"I was brought to the United States by my parents when I was 2 years old," one man told the crowd. "I’ve grown up in two worlds, neither of which felt fully accepting. As a teen I was angry with my parents… I couldn't get a driving permit. I couldn't get financial aid for school, I couldn’t travel like my friends could…"
He continued: "DACA unlocked the potential for us to pursue our goals. We were no longer bound by our circumstances."
Another woman spoke of being brought over with her sister as a child, saying DACA enabled her to attend Portland Community College. She's hoping to transfer to Portland State University to pursue a psychology degree.
In an especially awful, but not surprising, piece of reportage, the New York Times said today that some Trump aides worried that he didn't fully understand what he was doing by repealing DACA. From that story: "As late as one hour before the decision was to be announced, administration officials privately expressed concern that Mr. Trump might not fully grasp the details of the steps he was about to take, and when he discovered their full impact, would change his mind, according to a person familiar with their thinking who was not authorized to comment on it and spoke on condition of anonymity."
Meanwhile, Obama called Trump's decision "wrong" and "self-defeating."
Here's more from the Portland rally.